Story by: Christian Jackson
Your True Gender was a rich mix of resources and support for a trans person transitioning with major conversations around creating a more expansive space of inclusiveness and leadership. Everyone was so welcoming and it was if we were all a small family. I felt so supported and genuine closeness to everyone. I felt so loved and invited and appreciated especially by the president of the conference, trans advocate, Jessica Lynn.
Janet mock made some really powerful statements about trans women and specifically trans women of color being leaders. In response to a question I asked her on stage she reminded me that we (trans women of color) don't get to see the day when we have grey hair. We are not allotted the access to become legends and grow old. She told us to look around the room, and take note of the trans people who had grey hair. They were older white trans women most of who've transitioned later in life (alluding to the privilege lived as a cis person). She went on to name the one black trans woman either of us could recall with grey hair, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and then addressed the fact that Miss Major is still funding her life to this day through crow funding sites.
This conference was a true awakening, but besides speakers Janet Mock and Isis King there was only one other black trans woman besides myself.
I was also very elated to see Drian Juarez a trans woman of color featured on I am Cait, the new TV show that focuses on the life and social transition of Caitlyn Jenner. She was warm and welcoming, she didn't have a particular role within the conference but her presence and access to create network with her was irreplaceable.
I was so proud to have had the opportunity to represent the University of Cincinnati 2300 miles away at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo California. I made sure everyone knew there was a UC presence. The organizers of the conference were beyond grateful, shocked, and excited to have representation from the east, so much so every time they saw me they referred to me as the Bearcat! It was wonderful to see Janet Mock once again since I last saw her when she came to UC in the spring of 2014. Since that day in spring of 2014 she follows me on Twitter and I have remained connect to her. She told me how proud she was of UC for creating this access point for trans women of color and gave UC and myself a shout out from the stage and the entire room cheered! I realized UC is responsible not only for me seeing her this time but also for me ever even meeting her. This is the power of higher learning and network this is exactly the purpose of higher education but also creating access points and opportunities for further network.
Isis King another trans woman of color and a former contestant from Americas Next Top Model was present as a speaker. She spoke about the importance of solidarity and community. The biggest takeaway from Isis for me was when she said even if no one else is there to listen to us or support us it is our responsibility to support each other as trans people (especially) the trans women of color. Isis, Janet and surgeon Marci Bowers noted if we are ahead and one of us is behind we are all behind because we are a team, a family. Isis was also kind enough to join me in making a brief shout out video for UC.
And as I write this reflection 35,000 feet in the air on my way back home, on my way back to my university, the University of Cincinnati, I feel so empowered and activated to create change to promote equity and awareness. I feel inspired to lead by example and work with the university and our community to continually educate ourselves of the best practices for inclusiveness and encouraging students recognize their strengths and weaknesses as student leaders.
I took lots of pictures and a few videos to document my experience and capture some of the great moment I will not soon forget. I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend this conference and make these connections. It was a fabulous five days of learning not to mention the sunny weather, sights of stunning mountains and valleys and opportunity to spend the eve of my birthday with two iconic trans women of color. I was able to turn 23 in the state used to call home and strangers even made my day brighter one by having dinner with me and another by buying me flowers which have traveled 9 hours back home with me on 3 flights and four airports. And as I travel back I home I also have my well worn well read copy of Janet Mock’s book in my lap, finally a signed copy that reads:
I send you all the love & prayer, and wish you nothing but beautiful visions.
For more about my life as a trans person the good the bad and the ugly be sure to visit my blog thecisjungle.wordpress.com, it's cis world and #girlslikeus just live in it.
Here's a collage from of my favorite moments in San Luis Obispo California!